By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
The Notre Dame of Bethlehem parish community is commemorating the centennial anniversary of Our Blessed Mother’s appearance at Fatima in a very prayerful way by promoting a “100,000 Rosary Challenge” that began Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary, and the Mother of God. Organizers are seeking 100,000 rosaries to be prayed during 2017.
The year-long challenge is also in recognition of the parish’s dedication to Mary, our Mother.
The Notre Dame Rosary Challenge is a parish-wide prayer initiative co-sponsored by the Women’s and Men’s Groups. All parishioners, their family and friends are invited to participate. According to Msgr. Thomas Baddick, pastor, “no pledge to pray the rosary will be denied.”
“The response has been fantastic,” said Msgr. Baddick. “In our last update, 547 individuals have pledged to pray more than 105,000 rosaries.
“Families are praying the rosary together, our parish elementary school and religious education students are praying the rosary, our youth group FIAT recently completed over 300 rosaries, and many of our 50 parish ministries and organizations include the rosary in their meetings,” Msgr. Baddick said.
“This is such a positive program that is sweeping the parish and we are receiving heartwarming stories from many parishioners, including a mother who spoke of her college-age son who signed up his girlfriend to join him praying the rosary. Another mother spoke of praying the rosary with her adult son, as well as a fallen-away Catholic who pledged to pray a single rosary.”
According to Msgr. Baddick, “Our assistant pastor Father James Harper has found a way to add his personal touch by making rosaries for some of our parishioners. He is a skilled rosary maker.”
“Dennis Campbell and Mary Ann Guman, who lead the men’s and women’s groups at Notre Dame, are the promoters of the challenge and have done a fantastic job,” Msgr. Baddick said.
Campbell described his personal love for the rosary this way: “In praying the rosary, I am reminded of its life-changing power. Personal stories of healing, forgiveness and renewal shared by many who pray the rosary attest to its power and Our Lady’s promises. In a turbulent world, the rosary offers me a safe harbor, a source of strength and purpose.”
Enthusiastic with the parish response so early in the year, Msgr. Baddick said, “I have renamed our campaign the ‘200,000 Rosary Challenge.’ We’re planning a social media campaign for later in the year.”
The parish is also boosting interest in the challenge with bulletin inserts, posters and a large banner on the front wall of the parish next to the church sign. On a weekend in January, parishioners were given a special opportunity to sign up for the challenge during all weekend Masses.
Our Blessed Mother tells us that praying the rosary is a powerful armor against hell and a source of grace. Among other blessings, praying the rosary daily promises that virtue and good works will flourish in your life and that you’ll be delivered promptly from purgatory.
Notre Dame has set up a special website where parishioners may sign up at http://form.jotform.com/campbed4/ndrosary. Once there, they can register their rosary pledge, including any special intentions.
A link to the Notre Dame Rosary Challenge website can also be found on the Notre Dame parish website http://www.ndbethlehemchurch.org/ along with links to other valuable resources. To help those less familiar with praying the rosary, the parish has provided rosaries and a brochure on “How to Pray the Rosary” at all entrances to the church.
Those without access to a computer or the Internet can make a rosary pledge by placing their name, email address, number of rosaries to be prayed during 2017 and special intention in the collection basket. “Once people sign up they receive an email confirmation, including Our Lady’s 15 promises to those who pray the rosary, and then periodic updates and articles that encourage Marian devotion,” Msgr. Baddick said.
May 13 is the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children in the small village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917. She appeared six times to Lucia, 9, and her cousins Francisco, 8, and his sister Jacinta, 6, between May 13, 1917 and Oct. 13, 1917. Notre Dame plans to commemorate Our Lady’s apparitions with six public square rosaries – one each month starting in May through October and each hosted by a parish ministry.
In her last apparition, Mary revealed her name in response to Lucia’s question: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” That same day, 70,000 people had turned out to witness the apparition, following a promise by the woman that she would show the people that the apparitions were true. They saw the sun make three circles and move around the sky in an incredible zigzag movement in a manner that left no doubt in their minds about the veracity of the apparitions. This is often called “The Miracle of the Sun.”
By 1930 the bishop had approved of the apparitions and they have been approved by the church as authentic.
Msgr. Baddick encouraged other parishes to launch such a campaign, noting there is plenty of time left in the year. “The spiritual blessings are worth the effort.”